Two Mardi Gras parties at Downtown bars

Just a reminder that Bardog Tavern is having a Mardi Gras party for Fat Tuesday.  Or at least I’m assuming they are, because they ran an ad in the Flyer mentioning Fat Tuesday with their dog mascot in a Mardi Gras mask.  “Throw me some beads, I’ll throw you a bone,” read the ad.  So I’m guessing something fun will be going on.  I’m assuming it will still be pint night up there, with all pints $3.

I may skip the first hour of trivia and run by Bardog to see what’s going on up there.  I’ll definitely have to be back at the Flying Saucer by 9, though, because the Saucer is also celebrating Fat Tuesday and will be giving away the Fat Tire bike they’ve had hanging in the corner for a month.  You must be present to win the bike, so if you’ve handed in Fat Tire receipts to enter, be sure to be there.  A manager told me they advertised a 9 PM time for the drawing, but it will probably be some time after that… just make sure you’re there not long after 9 if you’re interested in the bike.

I’ll be at both events with beads on.  Oddly, I haven’t heard of much else going on for Fat Tuesday… Silky’s is never a bad choice for that kind of a celebration, if you’re looking for an alternative to the two places listed above.

As I type this, it’s 5:16 PM on Monday though… time to hit Publish and head to Pint Nite.

Circa brunch review

Yesterday a few of the brunch crew and I tried Circa by John Bragg.


Pictured above is the dish I ordered, the Eggs Victor, which is a variation of Eggs Benedict with lump crabmeat, caviar, and hollandaise sauce atop poached eggs on muffins.

I had run into John the night before at Bardog, and he attempted to explain the difference between Circa’s brunch and the brunches I’ve been going to lately (Slim’s and Majestic).  “Price-wise, yeah, my dishes are a few dollars more than the places you’ve been going,” he told me.  “But at my restaurant, you get value.  You get your choice of a side item with any brunch entree, which would be $5 a la carte.  You also get a big basket of muffins and biscuits, which some restaurants don’t provide with brunch entrees.  When you eat at my brunch, you won’t leave hungry.”

That proved to be true.  The Eggs Victor was $16, but the bartender told me I could have my choice of any side item on the list.  “Even the meats?” I asked, and he nodded yes.  So I went with the sausage, and as you can see in the pic above I got a generous helping of 4 large links.  There was also a side salad on my plate.  In addition, the brunch included a basket of muffins and biscuits with butter and jelly.  The muffins were fruit flavored and were some of the best I’ve ever had.  I believe the potatoes, pictured above, were a freebie from John and normally wouldn’t be included in the brunch price (although they’re one of the sides so I could’ve chosen them instead of the sausage).  They were excellent as well, mixed with celery and other vegetables.  John was right – the food was top notch, and there was so much of it that I couldn’t finish it.  It was more expensive, but dollar for dollar it delivers as much value as the places I’ve been going.

There was, however, a considerable price difference in the alcohol.  I’ve gotten used to the $2.50-$3.00 mimosa and Bloody Mary specials at Slim’s and Majestic.  No such specials at Circa – mimosas were $6.  Bloody Marys weren’t on the menu but I believe they’re around the same price.  “If you plan on ordering more than two mimosas, it makes sense to go ahead and get a bottle of champagne with set-ups for $14,” the bartender said.  That made sense, and $14 for the bottle is pretty competitive with other Downtown brunches.  But that meant I had to finish the entire bottle, which is a lot more than I’ve been drinking at brunch yesterday.  I ended up leaving about a quarter of it.

My verdict:  John was right about having top-quality food, and delivering enough of it so that you get a good value for the money.  I will go back there again on occasion, but only when I’m very hungry.  When I go back I’ll probably order a Coke rather than a drink so that my tab won’t grow so huge.

Next week for brunch:  No idea.  I’m going to continue to make my own decision about where to go for brunch, rather than feel like I have to follow the brunch crew’s official decision.  The Majestic is still the gold standard and there’s always a chance I’ll be there.  Or maybe back to Slim’s.  I also hear rumors that Bardog may be starting a brunch, and if they do I’ll certainly be willing to give them a try.

Now let’s discuss what happened once I left Circa and walked over to the Saucer.


After all that food, I was nearly comatose, especially since I got up too late to go on my usual morning caffeine run before brunch.  For about 45 minutes I just sat in a chair trying not to fall asleep.  Finally I was coaxed onto the pool table.  I figured yesterday would be one of those days when I’d lose every game.  But miraculously, I won my first one.  Then my second.  Then… more.  I started to wake up as I won more games, and wondered if my record there (11 games won in a row) was within reach.  Pete (pictured above) showed up, having attended Soup Sunday, and I beat him to win game 7.  About an hour later, I got my 11th win, tying my record, and Pete had the next game.

… And Pete went down in flames again, giving me win number 12 and a new record.  I went on to win games 13, 14, and 15, and Pete’s turn came again.  This time Pete was finally able to get the win in a close game, ending my streak at 15 games and about three and a half hours on the table.  The way Pete was celebrating, you’d think he’d just won Powerball.  Somehow he had amnesia concerning the two losses from earlier in the day.  But, it’s all good.  Congrats to Pete on his fine victory.

By that time it was almost 5, and I once again had the hankering to play poker.  “Wonder if anyone’s playing at Calhoun’s?” I thought.

The good thing about Buzztime Poker is that even if no one in the bar is playing, you can play against “bots” with names like Jocko, Fuji, Violet, and Amber, and the chips you win still count toward your weekly and monthly chip totals.  So I played against the bots for a while, and then other people in the bar joined in and we selected the “remove bots” option so we could play against each other.  (The bots automatically leave the room as soon as the 4th human joins the game.)

I ended up staying until 12.  The poker game is incredibly addictive.  Owner Max and uber-regular Mikey have been trying for the past year to figure out how to get me in there more.  With Buzztime Poker they may have finally done it.  Trivia too.  This week I’m going to complete the transfer of my old Sleep Out Louie’s trivia points to Calhoun’s, which will put me second on the leaderboard, I believe.

I continued to hone my poker skills, but on the last game I got sloppy and Max went ahead of me in the chip count.  Once again I spent a half hour with a notebook this morning, analyzing what I did wrong.

My leather jacket absolutely reeks of smoke this morning thanks to Calhoun’s.  It smelled so bad that I left it at home when I went on my morning Mountain Dew run, walking down Main in only a T-shirt in 38 degrees.  I didn’t want any neighbors riding with me in the elevator or people standing behind me in line at Walgreens to be subjected to that smell.

Don’t forget that Calhoun’s is doing its “Monday Fun Day” tonight, with all drafts except PBR half off.  That means that most domestics are $1.50 and most premiums and imports are $2.50.

That probably won’t be enough to divert me from my regular Monday evening plans though… Pint Nite at the Saucer.  Almost 70 drafts for $2.75 a pint.  I’ll do three more beers toward my third plate, then drink Dos Equis Lager for the remainder of the evening.

Coming later today or early tomorrow: Fat Tuesday info.

Pics: Crawfish pie eating contest at Voodoo Room


Chef Clint lays out the pies and fills the PBRtini glasses.


Isn’t it a little unfair to have a chef from another restaurant in the pie-eating contest?  He could have had unlimited practice this week eating his own cooking.


Ruchee proves that ladies can be competitve eaters too.


Struggling to keep that last bite of pie down.  That’s the thing about this contest – if anyone’s crawfish pie came back up, you know it would be naaaaaaaasty.


After the contest, Chad, Megan, Chuck, and Air Traffic Mike pose for a pic.  Feeling the effects of that PBR Chad?

The party died down before the second contest, the one offering giant beads as the prize to whoever showed the most “Mardi Gras spirit.”  And by “spirit” I mean… well, hopefully you know what I mean.  Boo to Suzy, Ruchee, and “Glo” for leaving before this contest.  If you three had been the finalists to “show the most spirit” I would have thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

Apologies to Aquanet/Red Rooster for not making it to the show as intended… life happened on the way there.  And by “life happened” I mean I was the beneficiary of several unexpected shots someone bought me at Bardog.

Court House Deli gets some well-deserved recognition in the CA

Weekday lunch spot the Court House Deli got its Cajun chili mentioned in the Commercial Appeal in Jennifer Biggs’ “Best Finds” column.  Glad to see the place getting some recognition – it’s an inexpensive little lunch spot that is one of Downtown’s gems.

When you order their chili, you’ll be asked if you want it “with everything” – that includes shredded cheese, onions, and jalapenos.  You can pick and choose from those toppings or get it plain.  Their other Cajun offerings are fantastic too – I’m most fond of their crawfish etoufee, and their jambalaya is tasty and spicy.  They also have gumbo and red beans and rice.

They have good sandwiches too, and also burgers and salads.  I’m quite fond of their mushroom swiss burger.  They pre-cook the patties in advance, so during the lunch rush you don’t have to wait a long time for your burger to come off the grill.  You can have a hot, juicy burger ready within about 2 minutes of the time you get to the register.  Their shrimp salad croissant is another one I order from time to time.  Nothing costs a lot of money there – you have to really be hungry to run a tab north of $6 at Court House.

It’s open only on weekdays, during lunch hours (sorry, I know that doesn’t do you much good on a Saturday).  It’s on Main between Madison and Monroe.

By the way, apologies to Ms. Biggs for saying that she got Orleans on Front’s bar hours wrong in her column – she got those from the restaurant’s website, which lists the same hours.

Shot through the heart. And you’re to blame. You give love a bad name. +Ratt +Motley Crue +Warrant +Poison +Ozzy +etc.

The Red Rooster’s 1st birthday celebration continues tonight as Aquanet takes the stage.  Let me say it one more time:  Aquanet. Is. Awesome.  They’re an ’80s hair band cover band, and they do more than just perform the songs, they have the big hair and costumes and lights and everything.  Quite a spectacle, and the Rooster’s stage is a great place to hear them.  Most likely I’ll stop by the Rooster tonight and catch however much of Aquanet’s first set that I can, before it’s time to head to Orleans on Front/Voodoo Room‘s Mardi Gras party to observe their PBRtini and crawfish pie eating contest.

Yesterday afternoon got off to a boring start, as I had the pleasure of editing 72 domain records to get my College Logo Shopping sites back online.  All the individual college subdomains got knocked off when GoDaddy migrated my hosting account to a new server.  They’re back up now, so you can once again buy some Memphis Tigers stuff to support your team.

About 3 yesterday afternoon something really started to bother me.  A week and a day earlier, I had been at Calhoun’s for their weekly Buzztime Poker tournament, and I was basically handing out free chips to Benjie and Chuck, the two best players, given the way that I was playing.  “Those guys are good, but I should at least be able to go toe-to-toe with them,” I thought to myself.  So I took out a notebook and wrote for an hour and a half, analyzing what I had done wrong and what habits I need to change when I play.

Then I headed to the Saucer for a beer and a conversation with Air Traffic Mike.  From there it was on to the Red Rooster for their crawfish boil.  Some info about the Rooster that I’ll pass along:

  • The crawfish boil wasn’t just a one-time thing for their birthday.  They’re going to do it every Friday night, $15 for all you can eat, while crawfish are in season, 6 to 9 PM.
  • They have PBR back on tap!!!!!
  • I found out more about their Wednesday trivia night.  It’s run by and the prizes are $50/$20/$10.

The way the crawfish boil works is, you pay the entry fee and get a wristband.  The wristbands are merely to verify that people eating crawfish have paid, so that you don’t get two people trying to split a box on one entry fee.  You get a ticket which you trade in for a box of crawfish.  If you want a refill, you can go to back to the door, show your wristband, and they’ll give you another ticket.  You can do that as often as you want a refill for the duration of the crawfish boil.

The Rooster does their crawfish right.  When I handed in my ticket and a styrofoam box came back, I found that it was filled with not only crawfish but also with a tater, corn on the cob, onions, and a miniature smoked sausage that had been marinating in the pot with the mudbugs.  Very nice!  Crawfish were on the small side but it’s very early in the season, so they will get bigger soon.

I had the time wrong – I thought it started at 5, but if I’d read the flyers they put out, I would’ve seen the correct start time of 6.  Still, though, at 6:10 Sam told me “we’ll have the crawfish out in about 15 minutes.”  Actually, it was 6:40 before the first ones came out of the pot.  Hopefully they’ll get a little more punctual in future weeks.

The Rooster was decorated with birthday stuff.  Sam was wearing a “happy birthday” Tiara.  When he got in the booth to DJ, I nicknamed him “DJ Tiara” and texted it to the Rooster’s video message board.  Soon after, Sam took the tiara off.  Did I make Sam self-conscious?  I didn’t think such a thing was possible.

Stayed there for two boxes of crawfish and a couple of PBRs.  My planned next stop was the Saucer to try Lazy Magnolia’s special-brew sweet potato beer, but the poker itch was really getting to me.  “I wonder if anyone’s playing Buzztime Poker at Calhoun’s?” I thought.  So I walked down there, and sure enough, a few people were.  I played until midnight, using the strategy I devised in the notes I had taken earlier in the day, and did dramatically better, ending up on both the weekly and monthly “chip leader” boards by the time I left.  I also noticed a few mistakes I was still making that cost me large pots, and will work on those next time.  My goal is to be able to hold my own against anyone in poker (at least in Downtown Memphis) by the end of the year.

Max told me that Calhoun’s is going to do a weekly crawfish boil soon too, probably on Sunday afternoons.  He doesn’t have a start date in mind yet.  He asked me about the size of the crawfish I’d eaten at the Rooster and said he’s going to wait for them to get bigger.

I ended up sitting next to Mikey, who went into his “walking, talking commercial for Calhoun’s” mode.  It was my 6th appearance at Calhoun’s in 9 days, and Mikey took it as a sign that I’m finally realizing that Calhoun’s is as significant a place as the Eiffel Tower, Jesus’ tomb, and the Washington Monument.  He tried to engage me in a conversation about whether Calhoun’s or Bardog is a better neighborhood bar.  Needless to say he had plenty of arguments in Calhoun’s favor.  I just rolled my eyes.  I really have nothing bad to say about either place – both have done everything just about perfectly.  It was a pointless conversation.

Then he expressed his astonishment that a few days ago, when people decided to do a jambalaya cookoff and Mardi Gras party at Calhoun’s tonight, I didn’t immediately shelve my existing agenda for the evening and go all-in.  Again I rolled my eyes.  I have no doubt that their Mardi Gras party will fantastic and fun and festive and the food will be delicious and it will be a wonderful celebration of Downtown Memphis.  It’s just that tonight, I choose to do something else.  Deal with it.  I like Calhoun’s a lot but it turns me off when people get overly gung-ho about the place.  Last November, I had another Calhoun’s regular pestering me to go to their Thanksgiving potluck after I’d already told her five times I wasn’t going to be there.  That kind of thing does not increase the frequency of my visits.

Side note here:  A shout-out to the organizer of tonight’s party, and of many previous parties, at Calhoun’s.  She’s made sure I’ve been aware of them, and she’s asked me to blog about them, but she’s never badgered or pestered me to show up.  She’ll simply say “hope you can make it” and leave me to make my own decision.  I appreciate and respect that.

I do want to try Calhoun’s BBQ nachos sometime soon though, which I’ve heard are very good.  If my calendar stays clear for Thursday evening, I may get up there about 6 and give their nachos a try and then get a crack box and put my poker skills to the test at 7.

So anyway, I stayed at Calhoun’s bar until 1:30 in the morning, then walked north… comtemplated the idea of Raiford’s, but decided to save that for another night when I have more energy.  Had a go-home beer at Bardog, and landed in bed about 2:30.

The Tigers play UTEP at 3 PM on ESPN.  Undecided whether I’ll go anywhere to watch the game.  I kinda don’t want to get the day started that early, since I plan on staying out at Voodoo Room until at least 1.  In any case, looking forward to a fun-filled Saturday.

Into rock climbing? ClimBRIDGES tonight, 6 to 9 PM

Somehow this event slipped through the cracks up ’til today… if you’re into rock climbing, you may want to head to BRIDGES, on Auction between Fourth and Fifth in Uptown, tonight.  Once a month they have a 35 foot high rock wall that covers 1400 square feet, with courses laid out by professionals, 8 top rope belay points, 3 auto belays, coffee, food, free Wi-Fi, and music.  Tonight’s the night – 6 to 9 PM, $15 adults, $10 under 18 and college students with ID.  Under 18 must have a waiver signed by an adult in order to climb.  Previous climbing experience is not required.

Wondering WTF a “belay” is… no need to e-mail me and tell me, I don’t really care.  My health guru AL will probably be disappointed that I’m picking the Rooster’s crawfish boil over ClimBRIDGES, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Orleans on Front reviewed in today’s CA – but they got the date of the Mardi Gras party wrong

The CA’s food critic reviewed Orleans on Front today. You can read the review here.  Good review, but she got the date of their Mardi Gras party wrong – it’s Saturday night, February 21, not Tuesday night.

Also, her article says that the bar is open from 10 PM to 3 AM.  That’s wrong too.  The upstairs bar is open the same hours the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner (11 AM to 2:30 PM and 4 PM to 10 PM).  The downstairs bar aka the Voodoo Room aka Hoop’s new place is open from 8 PM to 3 AM, and after they stop serving dinner at 10, there’s a late night bar food menu from 10 PM to 3 AM.

Their website has a 10% off coupon, so you may want to stop by there and print one out before you head to Orleans.  One of these days I need to get there while dinner is still being served and try those fried boudin bites.

Get Lazy at the Saucer tonight

lazy_magnolia_promoJust a reminder that Mississippi brewery Lazy Magnolia will do a limited release of their Sweet Potato Stout beer at the Flying Saucer tonight at 7 PM.  If you’ve never tasted sweet potato-flavored beer before, this is your chance… but your window of opportunity will close quickly, because there’s only one keg.

Not normally a big fan of stouts myself, but this one should be very interesting.

Before I hit the Saucer, though, I’m doing the Red Rooster’s crawfish boil.  It’s set to happen from 5 PM to 9 PM tonight, but I’ve been to enough of these things to know they never start on time.  I plan on getting there about 5:30-5:45 and wouldn’t be surprised if the first batch of crawfish is just coming out.